Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Ferrets > How Intelligent Are Ferrets? Everything You Should Know

How Intelligent Are Ferrets? Everything You Should Know

Ferret headshot on grass

When you interact with a ferret, it’s easy to see just how lively they are. They have super social natures and like playing, running, jumping, and getting into all sorts of trouble with human and animal playmates alike.

So, just how smart are they? Studies say that in terms of intelligence, ferrets can give dogs and cats a run for their money! But what are the details of how they rank? Let’s dig in.


How Smart Are Ferrets?

ferret eating crumbs from the ground
Image Credit: Isoman72, Pixabay

Ferrets are brilliant creatures with excellent problem-solving skills. They can quickly figure out concepts with little effort, impressing researchers. While they might not be among the top 10 most intelligent animals on Earth, they are still exceptional pets with big personalities.

If you’ve ever met a ferret, you know just how interactive they are. It’s like they are drawn to people, even strangers. Ferrets are playful, inquisitive, and fun loving, so it should come as no surprise that you have a little weaselly genius on your hands.

How Do They Rank?

When experts test an animal’s intelligence, they typically use a few different categories.

These include:
  • Problem Solving: Ferrets have terrific problem-solving skills. They can quickly and efficiently navigate mazes and other challenging restrictions.
  • Memory Retention: Ferrets have impressive memory retention, ranking between dogs and cats.
  • Communication: Ferrets tend to express their emotions in theatrical ways. Their expressions reflect their mood, enabling humans to pick up easily on how they’re feeling.

Ferrets also use a series of clicks, hisses, and other vocalizations to get their point across.

Are Ferrets Trainable?

ferret-ready for bath-pixabay
Image By: Sir_Tommy, Pixabay

One common misconception about ferrets is that they are not trainable. That is absolutely not true! You can train a ferret the same way that you can train a dog—within reason, of course. Ferrets learn in their own language.

For one thing, you can train your ferrets to use a litter box. In fact, most of the time, pet shops will keep a litter box in the container with the ferret. So, the chances that your newly acquired ferret is already litter trained are quite high in many cases.

You can also train your ferrets to do all kinds of fun tricks.

Ferret Tricks

Ferret in the field
Image Credit: christels, Pixabay

Since your ferret is so smart, take a few minutes out of your day to teach them a thing or two, like how to roll over or come when called. There are plenty of tutorials out there, or you can find a method that works best with your ferret at home.

Do Ferrets Bond With People?

Ferrets are remarkably social creatures that are quite capable of bonding with their owners. The more time you spend with them, the more accustomed they get to your voice, scent, and spirit. You can form a strong connection easily with one or multiple ferrets.

As far as smaller caged pets are concerned, ferrets are ranked among the most social. However, due to their inclination to play rough, they are better for older children above 6 years of age.

holding ferret III_Peryn22_Shutterstock
Image By: Peryn22, Shutterstock

Ferrets & Destruction

Their intelligence might not always work in your favor. Like many other small pets, ferrets are notorious chewers and diggers. They can do serious damage to your trim, carpets, and furniture. Since these behaviors are expected, though, you just have to monitor your ferret while they’re out. There’s really no way to “untrain” this impulse.

To avoid any type of destructive tendencies or unplanned escapes, you should ferret-proof your home and never let your pet freely roam for extended periods unsupervised.



If you own a ferret and have always thought that they had more going on upstairs than meets the eye, you are right! These critters rank close to dogs and cats in intelligence, showing incredible brainpower.

Of course, that can make them somewhat mischievous, and they will get into all sorts of trouble. Still, they bond closely with owners and other pets, making them perfect additions to just about any home—permitting that you can protect your assets!

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: christels, pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets